I have been reading a delightful book titled Poor Man’s Providence by Rheta Grimsley Johnson. It’s is a collection of stories about her life as a journalist, and especially her experiences in the south Louisiana town of Henderson and the wonderful, colorful characters she and her husband came to love, the Cajuns, who populate south central Louisiana. She discovered the beauty of people who were just ordinary folks who loved life and expressed it in their love of their surroundings, their music, their food, and more importantly, their loving friendships.
It put me to thinking about my rather ordinary life. My self apprasial resulted in seeing myself as completely ordinary, you know, average Joe. I am one of those souls who is content with being ordinary. I am not tempted, as many seem to be, with the desire to soar away to greatness, be famous, and be the envy of other men and the heart-throb of women. (just writing that bit reminded my how funny I am…but only ordinarily so). I am content to be a happy 66 year old with a wife who loves me and puts up with me, six grand children, and the necessary adults who produce grand children. At night my feet hurt, my belly is too big to suit me and my legs are too skinny. I have what the Doc says are “age spots”, and dozens of little bitty moles. I’m blind in one eye, my hair is gray, my hearing is waning, and for whatever reasons, I don’t particularly care.
When you are ordinary you can just relax and be yourself. I have never wanted a Corvette or a Hummer. I now drive a well used Subaru because I like Subaru’s. In my twenties I drove Valiants and Ramblers and hot water six cylinder Fords. You know, just ordinary transportation for an insurance salesman or a guy who worked at a NAPA store.
In my view, I began life somewhat less than ordinary. I was very cross-eyed, the clumsiest kid in Buncombe County, and could have been the poster child for an article in Life Magazine about poor kids in Appalachia, I was one pitiful looking little boy. And, due to a father who knew no better, I answered to Stupid for much of my youth. I always felt out-of-place in grade school and my grades were, well…, mostly average. I only put in the required effort to make passing grades. I was not popular by any stretch and only felt really loved by mother and some other relatives.
Sometime about my Junior year of high school something changed. I can’t put my finger on it but I decided one day to not stay in the place I was. I started being friendly to people who had for years unknowingly intimidated me and to my glad surprise they welcomed me as one of them. It was a transformation as real as a caterpillar into a butter fly, at least in my mind. I am pretty sure that just now as I am writing this post is the first time I have realized that, the best I can remember, I never asked a girl for a date who refused. Quite a switch from a kid who had spent considerable time standing in the corner as an observer. I was never picked for a team of any kind when I was a boy and suddenly I had many friends who considered me their best friend. Not to my credit or good judgment, I smoked, drank too much, and drove too fast during my teenage years. I never did those things to fit in, I did them because I liked doing them. God would finally change that.
My point in making these revelations is that some of us had to work at rising to mediocre. I’ve made it to average and am just as happy as can be. I have made lots of money at times in my life and although I wish I had saved some of it, I can honestly say it never held my affections. Money is a necessary thing to use for bread, air conditioning, and $5 crank baits. That’s my view of money. I don’t ever give two minutes thought to how much we have in savings or if it will run out. I decided long ago that I’d let God be my source of earthly stuff and whoever and however He decided to get necessary stuff to me was up to Him. So far He has been keeping up His end of the deal.
I know folks who are ordinary, or maybe a bit less than ordinary, but either don’t know it or don’t want you and me to know it. So, they buy houses, cars, and boats they can’t afford and live pay check to pay check just like the folks on the other side of the tracks that they think are less valuable than they are. Guys go on and on about themselves, I, I, I, me, me, me, mine, bla, bla, bla, hoping someone will think they are anything but ordinary. To many people I know a car is not primarily transportation, it is a statement! Look at me, I’m important. I’m cool! Don’t you wish you were like me?
Well, for each his own as they say. It is much less expensive and a lot easier on your heart and soul if you can learn to just be who you are, be comfortable in your own skin. Obviously, some of us will be extraordinary with ease. I’m glad for them.
One of these days I’ll die. There will be some sad music and slow walking and I’ll be gone to my new home. I don’t expect that will happen because of a worry related heart attack.
Well, it’s time for this ordinary man to get his ordinary 6 hours or so of sleep. Thanks for indulging me this story about me, an ordinary guy who thinks he has arrived!